For more than a century, the Royal BC Museum has been publishing books – hundreds of them – on a variety of topics related to our province’s human and natural history.
Michelle Van Der Merwe manages the R0yal BC Museum (RBCM) publishing program.
“Most people don’t know that we have our own publishing department,” says Van Der Merwe. “They think that we just sell other people’s books and that we get all our material published elsewhere.”
Van Der Merwe explains what the publishing program is responsible for.
“We start from the beginning with book proposals, either coming up with our own book proposals or reviewing those from staff members or people outside the museum. It has to be on the subject matter that the museum [covers], so human or natural history of British Columbia. Then we manage the book through the whole process of publishing, through editing, book layout and design, proofing, indexing, whatever is necessary for the book.”
Van Der Merwe says there’s a long legacy of publishing in the museum’ss history. “If you go back, John Fannin, who was the museum’s first curator, actually did the first publication, and it was called “The Checklist of British Columbia Birds.” That was about 126 years ago.”
The first handbook was published by the museum in 1942.
“The forward note was written by Clifford Carl, who was one of our head curators here at the museum. And it’s full of great illustrations and information,” Van Der Merwe said.
Handbooks continue to be a very popular item. Two that were written by Nancy Turner and originally published in the 1970s were re-issued in the ’90s, and just re-isssued again this past summer.
All the museum’s books are now available online.
“We launched our online bookstore earlier this year,” says Van Der Merwe. “Anybody from anywhere around the world now has access to all of our books. We ship everywhere.”
“It’s great to see our titles out in the world.”